Bringing 21st century technology into the classroom can be done via a one-to-one computing program. Here are six important steps to implementing a one-to-one program. Each of these phases draws attention to an important step in the process. For a more comprehensive look at the implementation processes and a helpful assessment tool, please visit www.the21stcenturyclassroom.com.
Choosing the right equipment is important and should involve some careful research. For example, if a textbook that students use includes a DVD, the notebooks must also have DVD drives. Evaluating a selection of different products should give you a good feel for the durability of each product. Warranties differ between manufacturers, but most offer a three-year or four-year warranty with options for accidental damage.
Starting out, many schools choose not to purchase notebooks for the entire student body, but for selected grade levels. Other schools with a mix of grade level students in their classes opt for a “full immersion” rollout for all grades at once. Typically, students in higher grade levels will need more powerful notebooks than elementary school students.
With funding secured, how are you going to make the purchase? Have you looked into leasing options? Do you have to prepare an RFP (request for proposal) and request bids? Don’t forget about shipping costs, which can be several thousand dollars depending on the quantity of notebooks purchased.
Deployment starts with creating an operating system image with all necessary software, and loading it onto each of the computers. Your computer vendor partner should provide specialists who can image your notebooks for you prior to shipment, once they are given a master image.
One way to get the systems up and running is to sponsor a schoolwide “out of the box” night where students open their notebooks, attach to the network, receive training and then take the notebooks home with them upon completion.
Support and Assistance
This is the “cruising” phase of your project. Hopefully you won’t have any equipment problems since everything is brand-new. But the notebooks will inevitably acquire some battle scars and need to be repaired.
If you have a large number of notebooks, ask your technology provider about creating a self-maintaining program.
This means that you perform your own warranty work, and often get paid to do so. Setting up a student-run help desk is a great opportunity for students to learn some very valuable skills.
When students bring their notebooks in for repair, you need to have a troubleshooting policy specifying how much time will be spent addressing the software problem before simply reimaging the machine. With all of the imaging products out there, such as Symantec’s Norton Ghost and Novell ZENworks, you can often reimage the notebook faster than you can troubleshoot the software glitch.
If your teaching staff does not support the one-to-one program, it’s a recipe for disaster. Make sure that you get their support by delivering professional development to them well in advance of the students receiving notebooks — at least one year in advance, if not more.
Consider identifying some of your more tech-savvy teachers and offering them a computer in exchange for tech-mentoring another teacher or two. If all teachers have notebooks or tablets, they quickly see the capabilities of the technology and the opportunities for their classroom.
Check with your vendor or neighboring districts for recommendations on outside professional development support. Strong administrative support for technology professional development is a key component.